NHA vows to complete all houses for Yolanda survivors in 2020

SIX years after super typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) wreaked havoc on northern Cebu, the National Housing Authority (NHA) Cebu has completed only 39 percent, or 8,104, of the total 20,877 houses it was tasked to build for survivors.

But both the NHA and the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Yolanda promised to have all the houses ready for occupancy by the second quarter of 2020.

Elena Galeon, NHA Cebu Senior Community Support Services officer and NHA’s interim officer-in-charge, said among the causes of delay they’ve encountered were the difficulty in securing environmental compliance certificates for the land where the houses would be built, low housing budget and the lack of necessary utilities, such as water and electricity supply.

However, to speed up the project completion, the housing budget of some affected municipalities was raised from P290,000 to around P450,000.

The NHA also coordinated with other agencies to secure clearance and building permits and discussed the “township approach” to deliver basic housing utilities and facilities.

Galeon said of the 8,104 considered completed units, 6,350 units have been completed, 1,145 are partially completed (or 25 to 75 percent complete) and 609 are substantially completed units (or 75-99 percent complete).

A total of 12,773 units are still either undergoing land development or still up for bidding by the local government units (LGUs).

In the NHA data as of November 2019, the allocation for mainland Cebu was 9,752, of which only 3,859 are completed while 866 units are undergoing construction.

In the islands of Bantayan and Camotes, which have the bigger allocation of 11,125 units, only 2,491 have been completed while 888 units are undergoing construction (partially/substantially complete).

The original total housing unit allocation in Cebu was 22,423 units. The number was reduced to 20,877 units earlier this year.

Galeon said this was due to the request of some LGUs, mostly island municipalities, to raise the budget allocated for each housing unit due to cost adjustment and variation orders.

Among the LGUs that reduced their number of house allocations were the towns of Bantayan, San Francisco, Poro, Tudela and Pilar.

Bantayan Mayor Arthur Despi, however, assured that even if the number of houses was reduced, all survivors will receive their due houses since nongovernment organizations (NGOs), such as the Gawad Kalinga and the Habitat for Humanity, also implemented their own housing projects.

“We said that this number of houses can no longer be accomplished because of the increased price of labor and materials. Ang akong baruganan niana nga paghimo sa NHA sa target number sa balay, wala nila ma factor nga naay almost 1,000 diri nga gihimo sa mga NGOs (When the NHA came up with the target number of houses for survivors, they did not factor in the almost 1,000 units built by the NGOs),” he said.

In a 2018 interview, Constancio Antiniero, chief of the NHA Cebu, said the NHA Cebu was allocated P6.5 billion for the 22,423 housing units.

Jonji Gonzales, representative of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Secretary Michael Dino, who is the co-chairman of the IATF, said the problem of securing land titles for the housing sites was settled in 2017 yet.

“We coordinated with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources national to provide the necessary documents that the court needs to rule in favor of the housing project,” he said.

The problem was that some of the proposed housing sites are covered by the protected areas of the Philippine environment laws.

Meanwhile, Galeon said not all of the 6,350 completed house units have been turned over to its beneficiaries due to the lack of water and electricity supply.

But Gonzales said they’re addressing the problem.

In the terminal report meeting with Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles and the mayors of Yolanda-affected LGUs in the region last May, Nograles said the Local Water Utilities Administration could help LGUs run water systems by tapping the nearest water district to connect to an LGU-run water system. Once connected, the water system will eventually be turned over to the LGU.

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